Georgetown Mayor and Deputy Mayor dispute Jagdeo’s assertions about the lack of accountability and transparency at city hall

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Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine (Left) Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo (Top left) Deputy Mayor, Alfred Mentore (Bottom left)

Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo has drawn criticism for his remarks that the City Council lacks openness and accountability from Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine and Deputy Mayor Alfred Mentore. The vice president has been challenged by Narine and Mentore to provide the necessary proof for his assertion or to start an audit into the council’s financial operations.

Dr. Jagdeo agrees that the Georgetown Mayor and City Council should be held accountable for the fact that no audit has been done in ten years. He stated recently that a similar situation occurred in central government in 1992 while making this observation. 

“For ten years gap, no audit and financial statements are all done in a questionable manner,” he stated.

The Vice President urged citizens of Georgetown to vote out the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), which has controlled the city council since Guyana’s independence in 1966 and is responsible for the city’s filthy conditions. According to him, the council has utterly failed to carry out its mandate to maintain excellent drainage, repair roads, and collect garbage. 

“A whole range of responsibilities that are those of the city council have been taken over and funded to the tune of billions of dollars by central Government because you cannot put the money in that council,” the vice president explained.

Nevertheless, Narine and Mentore challenged Dr. Jagdeo to agree to an audit of the council from 2019 to present during a news conference on Monday and both categorically denied the claims made by him. 

“I’m challenging this present Government to do an audit between 2019 to date and show the public,” Narine said. 

According to Narine, the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, announced in 2020 that a city hall audit would be conducted but failed to deliver a report to the current council.

The Mayor claimed that the council continues to receive a paltry $30 million in annual subvention from the central government, which he deemed to be woefully insufficient to maintain the city’s operations.

In terms of the subvention provided to the municipal council, the vice president thinks it is adequate given the history of financial mismanagement by the council. 

“Adequacy is based on their perception. But that is why we look at the total spending in the city. If we handed them money to do a single road that we are doing now in the city, they would spend every single cent of the money and the road will never be built,” Dr. Jagdeo argued. 

The Deputy Mayor, however, argues that Dr. Jagdeo’s claims are unfounded and that the current council shouldn’t be held accountable for the mistakes of previous ones. Mentore further reminded the Vice President that the money received as subvention belongs to the citizens of Guyana, not to him.

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